TN Medical Cannabis Task Force Meets For First Time

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - The long debate about medical marijuana played out again Thursday on Tennessee's capitol hill. There's skepticism from law enforcement and some health officials, but there are also supporters who say benefits far outweigh any harm.

 

Thursday was the first meeting of what's called the Medical Cannabis Task Force.

 

“Whether you are ready or not, Marijuana is coming to America,” says Rep. Jeremy Faison.

Task force chair Jeremy Faision made those comments to skeptical law enforcement reps sitting in front of him. But will marijuana, or cannabis as many like to call it, come to Tennessee for medical reasons?

 

“What we are doing is giving this a full public airing and we are getting both sides of the issue presented,” says Sen. Steve Dickerson.

 

The Tennessee Health Department says research is not definitive yet. It listed benefits for cannabis for things like MS spasticity, chemotherapy nausea, and chronic neuropathic pain. Health department officials said harmful cannabis effects include more car crashes, schizophrenia, lower baby birth rate, and respiratory problems. 

 

“We believe the individual benefits of marijuana in the popular thinking have often been overstated and overestimated. We do believe that marijuana has medical benefit, we believe there are patients who will benefit,” says TN Health Dept. Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Reagan.

 

Health department officials added its always about the safety and effectiveness for individual patients.

 

Several lawmakers though took issue with the health department assessment of research, sometimes pointing to parents in the audience who have broken laws to give their kids, or those they care for, cannabis so seizures can be eased when nothing else works.

 

“They have gone to Colorado, they have used the cannabis oil and they have cut those seizures down to where they have lives now. We should not be against that,” says Rep. Sherry Jones.

 

At least two more meetings are scheduled this years the task force makes its report about medical Cannabis in TN. Rep. Faison and Sen. Dickerson say the task force findings will form the basis of a new medical marijuana bill next session

 

 


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